By Jose Villeneuve and Sean Fritz
Anyone who was at George P. Miller Stadium on Saturday was probably glad they went when IUP played host for their first home game of the season against Seton Hill University.
The first quarter was filled with some backand-forth action, with Seton Hill jumping out to a 3-0 lead answered by a Samir Bullock (freshman, management) touchdown.
Answering on their own was Seton Hill, who had a nine-play 80- yard drive capped off by a 22-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead.
Following that was Bullock’s second touchdown of the game which gave IUP a 14-10 lead heading into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Drew Harris (redshirt junior, sociology) scampered into the end zone for a touchdown, pushing IUP’s lead to two possessions.
The next stretch in the second quarter was all Seton Hill as they would score 23 unanswered points leaving IUP feeling a bit worried.
Near the end of the first half, with the Hawks down 33-21, quarterback Lenny Williams (redshirt sophomore, accounting) scooted in for a nine yard run to cut the deficit to a one possession heading into the half.
Whatever coach Curt Cignetti preached at halftime must have had an impact because IUP got back to the form they have been in for the first three games of the season.
“The leaders made us realize we were better than the way we were playing, we just wanted it more,” veteran leader and linebacker Kevin Clarke (redshirt senior, kinesiology) said following the game.
In the second half, the Griffins marched down on their first possession, scoring on a 7 play drive to extend the lead.
Defensive end CJ Odegbo (junior, marketing), blocked the try leading to the ensuing return by Jay Watkins (reshirt junior, kinesiology) who quickly scooped the ball before it went out of bounds and proceeded to return it.
As he was about to get hit, Watkins pitched the ball to Takhi Turner (junior, kinesiology) who carried it a quarter length of the field before he himself pitched to Steve Franco (senior, marketing), who raced to the end zone for a two points. The play caused a roar from the home crowd at Miller Stadium.
“That was one of the craziest plays I’ve ever been a part of, I didn’t expect it to turn out that way, but it just shows how bad we wanted it,” Clarke said
It was a huge momentum swing that led the Hawks on a scoring outburst started by a Ryan Stewart (senior, accounting) field goal near the end of the third quarter, cutting Seton Hill’s lead to six.
At the 10:28 mark of the 4th quarter Bullock, who set another career high with 162 yards rushing, punched in the tying touchdown for his third score of the game. Stewart split the uprights and IUP had recaptured the lead 40-39. IUP would add another score and PAT late in the fourth on Williams’ 37 yard touchdown pass to wideout Chris Wuestner (graduate student, business) capped by another Stewart PAT extending IUP’s lead to 47-39.
With all the momentum on the side of the Crimson Hawks, the drama was far from over, as the Griffins were driving late in the fourth in need of a touchdown and 2 point conversion to tie. The Griffins comeback attempt fell short when Clarke made a clutch interception to give the Hawks the ball back with just 33 seconds left, keeping the undefeated season alive.
“It felt great knowing I was able to secure a win for our team,” Clarke said after the game.
IUP will look to keep the offensive outburst going in their next matchup, on the road against PSAC rival California University of Pennsylvania at 7 p.m. Saturday.